EROS

THE MYTH OF ANCIENT GREEK SEXUALITY

A potentially interesting study of ancient Greek sexuality sinks in the rough seas of antifeminist diatribe. At first Thornton (Classics/Calif. State Univ., Fresno) is merely pedantic, offering a welter of examples to support his point that the Greeks believed eros, or sexual desire, was a powerful, dangerous force of nature. He becomes almost interesting in noting that our sentimental ``dead metaphors'' of love as fire, disease, and insanity originated in vivid Greek images (and fears) of the destructive power of eros. However, once Thornton starts trying to show that Greek hatred of women was an expression of a legitimate fear of eros, he reveals himself to be less an objective scholar than an apologist for Greek misogyny. He snipes at the ``cheap moral superiority'' of ``our smug twentieth century'' in refusing to recognize that ``the power of women was the power of eros.'' His arguments would be offensive were they not so silly: In proposing Marilyn Monroe as the image of the ``sexually powerful woman'' in opposition to the models in Victoria's Secret catalogs with their ``boyish hips,'' he seems to be elevating a personal preference into an intellectual analysis of sexual imagery in the late 20th century. After similarly confused explorations of Greek marriage, homosexuality, and philosophy, Thornton concludes that the Greeks were wiser than we in distrusting eros and trying to control it through such rational institutions as patriarchy. With a breathtaking lack of supporting material, he asserts that our deviation from their ideas about sex is responsible for contemporary ``illegitimacy . . . crime, random violence, poverty, and social barbarism.'' This book loses sight of its valid points in a fumbling attempt to imitate the contrarian Camille Paglia (whom Thornton cites as a ``model''). And when he fingers eros as the true culprit in Susan Smith's drowning of her two children, he leaves the reader wondering whether he, and his Greeks, are incapable of attributing to women other passions (e.g., maternal) than sexual ones.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8133-3225-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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